Vicious criminals claiming to be Christians try to justify unspeakable evil by quoting the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans, especially the beginning of Chapter 13, in which he wrote:Najaf; August 23 2004: A man walks past as a car burns on the outskirts of the old city.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil. -- Romans 13:1-4 (KJV)
They seem to forget that Paul was writing during the most decadent period of the decline of the Roman Empire. Caligula had died a few years earlier; his successors were feeding Christians to the lions. Paul's writing was considered very dangerous, and he gave himself a bit of cover. Not much, certainly. Not by today's standards.Baghdad; September 12 2004: Dead and critically injured Iraqi civilians lie in Haifa Street after US helicopters opened fire on targets in the area.
But it's clearly cover; it's first-century political satire, and the early Christians, if not actually rolling on the floor over this passage, would certainly have taken it with a huge block of salt.
in the very same chapter, Paul says:
Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. -- Romans 13:9 (KJV)Who do they think they're fooling?
The false witness alone would be enough to make angels weep.Baghdad; September 2007: Flags mark graves in a makeshift cemetery for victims of sectarian killings on the eastern outskirts the poor Shia slums of Sadr city.